Chapter Supports Regional Program to Reduce Transportation Pollution

Jeff Gross

Transportation is the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide and in Connecticut. That’s why reducing emissions from transportation must be addressed. Right now, multiple states in New England and the Mid-Atlantic are working together to do just that. 

 

The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a regional carbon cap-and-invest program that will cap pollution and invest in clean transportation solutions to drive down emissions over time. Each participating state will implement its own investment strategies to meet its needs. The proposal is akin to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which was implemented in nine states over a decade ago, and has been successful in driving down emissions in the electricity sector. 

 

RGGI sets targets for the carbon emissions of generation plants and requires the companies exceeding the targets to purchase "credits" at auction. Market-based mechanisms like RGGI and TCI, applied consistently over many years, are a proven way to promote the transition away from fossil fuels. 

Chapter Supports Regional Program to Red

Photo: Streets in Hartford, CT

Photo Credit: Flickr-John Murphy

By limiting pollution and investing in modern transportation, TCI will benefit Connecticut by creating jobs, saving families and businesses money, and improving commutes. It will also protect our health and our climate. 

 

As with RGGI, each state under TCI agrees to a uniform mechanism of cap limits and fee structure so that no one state receives a competitive advantage. However, each state has  considerable flexibility in how to use their proportional share of the resulting funds. 

 

Connecticut invests the proceeds of RGGI in energy conservation programs to multiply the effectiveness of the program. In the case of TCI, a state might decide to target public transportation, provide incentives for electrification of vehicles, or invest in air quality and health programs. Advocates in Connecticut are urging investments like these with a priority on communities most overburdened with air pollution from transportation to improve public health and to address environmental justice. 

 

There is widespread public support for a program like TCI that reduces transportation pollution and invests in clean transportation, as shown by recent surveys in Connecticut and the region. Not surprisingly, opponents of TCI are largely the dirty energy companies polluting our communities that don’t want to give up their profits even if it means irreparable damage to the planet and harm to our health. 

 

Sierra Club Connecticut supports the development and implementation of TCI and urges that TCI be as ambitious as Connecticut’s greenhouse gas reduction law that calls for a 45% reduction in emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050. We urge Governor Lamont to finalize a strong and just regional policy this spring. 

 

Want to know more or get involved with Sierra Club Connecticut’s Clean Transportation efforts? Contact Jeff Gross at jcgoss8@gmail.com

 

Jeff Gross is Sierra Club Connecticut’s Clean Transportation for All Committee Chair.